We officially moved into the bus October 4th…
…but that was really just a stepping stone so that we could let go of house living and commit fully to fitting ourselves and our pets and our instruments and everything else into the bus. But for a few weeks after moving in, we parked at my dad and his partner’s place (in Victor Idaho) and used some of their amenities while we got our own fully functioning.
We spent a few weeks there doing last minute plumbing, carpentry, reinforcement of solar panels, getting the gray water tank and the tool boxes mounted, and adapting to living off of sun energy.
Things that run off of electricity which we can successfully use in the solar powered bus:
- A small humidifier
- Propane water heater with an electric starter
- Water pump
- Water pressurizer
- The Splendide Washer Dryer Combo
- 200 watt electric heater (but we made the mistake of leaving this little guy running on a cloudy day which lead to the batteries draining and us needing to hook up to shore power)
- The refrigerator
- The composting toilet vent fan
Appliances that just could not hang with solar power and had to go:
- 1200 watt electric heater
- Hair dryer
- Rice cooker (this may have worked in the long run but we gave it to my dad because he has been wanting one and why risk draining the batteries when we can cook rice with propane?)
We have discovered that having eight solar panels will get us far; but we must only do laundry loads on a sunny day, and we should only use the little 200 watt heater during a mostly sunny day. At night or on a cloudy day we would need to be hooked up to shore power in order to not risk draining the batteries and having our fridge turn off (for some reason the fridge is the first item to give up—meanwhile the lights will stay on without signs of ceasing).
This immediately raises the validity of having my brother-in-law, Erik, build us that mini wood stove in Washington when we get there. Both propane and solar will be saved by using this third energy source (i.e. solar energy absorbed by trees!).
What we love about our Nature’s Head Composting Toilet:
- Not needing to flush 1.5 to 7 gallons of water down the tubes every time we sit on the throne
- The vent fan that keeps the smells going outside at all times
- Being able to funnel our pee into the gray water tank and send it off with a few sprays of water and essential oils when all is said and done
- We can put our coffee grinds in there to help the composting process and have the coffee beans absorb smells while they’re at it
What we don’t love about Nature’s Head Composting Toilet:
- I personally struggle with turning the agitator afterwards. It hurts my hands because I have to push or pull so hard!
- The toilet paper piling up underneath us while we sit, threatening to crawl out and take on a life of its own
- Having to empty the contents eventually…
On October 29th we were able to actually drive away from my dad and Greta’s place. It felt like leaving the nest in a real way. No more dad to run to when something wasn’t working right or we needed help problem solving! (And while mentioning my dad, it is worth telling you that he really came through in the last week and made a lot of tricky things happen in the build so that we could safely drive away)
We made our way to Fort Collins via 191 and 80.
We spent two nights on the road:
the first night at an RV park…
…the second night parked in a rest area:
What we love about living in a bus so far:
- Wherever we go, there we are, fully equipped with kitchen, bathroom, laundry, comfy bed, refrigerator, bicycles and meditation station
- We can now visit our friends and family around the United States and stay for weeks at a time in one place while having our own space and not impinging on someone else’s
- No matter where we end up, we can maintain a schedule and do our work and creative practices from home
- Everyone we meet is enchanted by our cluttered, magical little skoolie. It’s fun being able to bring a twinkle into the eyes of our acquaintances
- Our cat and dog can travel everywhere with us in relative comfort and ease. Zoso the dog loves being able to explore new places and meet new people on the reg
- The bus feels like a Mad Max vehicle that we can hide in and feel safe
- We have been forced to purge our belongings and might even be able to call ourselves minimalists (maybe… perhaps after we get rid of a few more boxes of items)
What we don’t love about living in a bus:
- It is a bit stressful having everything we own in the whole wide world—including a plethora of expensive equipment, gear and appliances—hurtling down the highway at 60 MPH
- Until someone actually steps inside of the bus and sees the interior with their own eyes, they generally assume we’re either a) people who love traveling so much we are willing to be very uncomfortable in a funky, hovel of a vehicle or b) out of options and so find ourselves living in a prison bus
- So far everywhere we’ve gone we have a limited time-stamp on being there, so in the back of our minds we know we’ll have to keep moving soon enough, and so can’t fully relax into being there (but that will change when we get to Marrowstone Island, WA)
- Bringing the bus in to get serviced. We haven’t done it yet, but tomorrow will be our first experience leaving our house at a mechanics (here in Fort Collins) and wandering around until they’re finished in there
But so far bus life has been a successful venture! As the months and years carry on, I feel we will become more and more at ease with this lifestyle and grateful to our past selves for making it happen.
Two last things worth mentioning:
1. Living on this bus often feels as though we’re living on a boat! When we walk around, our tiny house rocks slightly. And when there are high winds it creaks and sways about even more!
2. The one glaring deficit in this new lifestyle is our lack of hot spot boosting power so that we can livestream our shows and get on Zoom calls with our Patreon community again. This is in the works and we hope to have high speed capacities up and running in the near future.
Captain Jahnavi Newsom of The Love Sprockets Bus Enterprise